At the beginning of April, we took a quick weekend trip to College Station, TX to attend Physics Fest at Texas A&M. We pass through Waco, TX on our way so I decided we’d stop and visit things we have had on our bucket list on the way there and the way home.
We drove down on Friday so we decided to stop and visit Magnolia Market at the Silos on the way. This is a market that was built by Chip and Joanna Gaines from the show Fixer Upper. There was a line to the bakery the entire time we visited and the market was rather crowded. It was nice out on the lawn area with the food trucks and they had live music.
They also have a really nice garden area.
It was a very nice place to visit and I’m glad we stopped.
Unfortunately, it was really cold and rainy the day of Physics Fest. A lot of stations are outside, but the majority were inside so it was pretty packed. The highlight of Physics Fest for Madison was hanging out with kids and playing games with a group we stayed in the same hotel with. That was memorable for her. ❤️
We had a wonderful dinner at the Messina Hof Winery right outside of College Station in Byran, TX. It was fabulous!
On the way home we stopped again in Waco, TX to visit the Waco Mammoth National Monument. This is a must see in my opnion. They have guided tours that take you through the actual dig site.
Here is a life size picture of a mammoth so you can see the actual comparison to the size of it to yourself. Amazing!
We love Junior Ranger Badges and this was a fun one for Madison to get.
After Madison completed her Junior Ranger Badge, her and her sister sifted and identified ancient ocean fossils.
You get to keep what you find!
This was definitely a fun trip and we made the most of our weekend getaway! Nothing can replace the value of hands on learning and I am very grateful we have are able to embrace these moments!
Here is an update on what Madison is currently learning by subject. 🙂
We began using ALEKS in October and it is working very well for Madison. This is the first Math curriculum that we have used that hasn’t been frustrating for her or has caused tears. She took the 5th grade math pre-test and started out just a bit over mastering 50% of the course and finished by mid November. Then she took the 6th grade pre-test and again scored around 50% mastery and she is just now finishing that grade up. As soon as she completes 6th grade we will move on to 7th in the same fashion. They do offer a free trial so if you wanted to check it out, you can without a charge first.
The Introduction to Composition class Madison is taking through YS Middle School Online is a year long course. She absolutely loves it. I cannot say enough wonderful things about interaction with the teacher, the students and how far she has come with her writing. We signed up for the next level class for next year.
Madison is on Lesson 16 of the Wordly Wise 3000 Book 7. She uses the online version.
Science and Social Studies:
We are now using Study.com for our Science and Social Studies. Madison was moving at a lightening speed with Acellus and she was finding errors. When I compared what was covered for the same subjects, there was an astounding difference. I signed up for the study.com free trial and Madison couldn’t pass the final exams for the same subjects she had just completed with Acellus. She felt somewhat defeated, but I am glad we figured this out now and not later. So, with that said….
Madison is taking Middle School Life Science and Middle School Physics. She is also taking Middle School Geography. The cool part about the courses that Study.com offers is that if they take the end of year exam, it will show you when you start the course what they need to learn and they do not need to do the lessons with the information they already know. Madison is also currently doing the Ancient Asia Moving Beyond the Page unit and then she will do the Single Shard unit.
Madison learns best through videos, but she also likes to dig deeper with hands on projects as well. So, we are doing the study.com lessons and then when those are complete (or close to complete) we are going to start on her Moving Beyond the Page units.
That pretty much covers the “core” subjects. Madison is taking a couple of other online classes.
Introduction to Latin through Gifted Homeschoolers Forum is a huge hit with Madison. She picked this class out and she is really enjoying it. She is also taking Philosophy for Questioning Minds through Athena’s Advanced Academy and it is amazing. Madison is also going to begin The Electoral Process and Political Systems in March. Madison also does keyboarding with Touch-Type Read and Spell and vision training with Dyslexia Gold daily. Once a week she attends Homeschool PE and twice a month she has an online music appreciation class through Squilt.
This semester Madison is participating in the DFW Speech Club. She has written and memorized a Persuasive speech and an Open Interpretation speech to compete in tournaments with and is also prepping to compete in the Impromptu and Constitutional Literacy categories as well. She goes to her club meeting once a week and will participate in tournaments in March and June. Next year she will be in the club all year versus just one semester.
Another one of Madison’s favorite things to do is to learn and play chess. She does this many different ways. Madison is part of a local chess team and they participate in scholastic tournaments. They took Second Place in a tournament in January. They also take weekly online chess lessons from Chris Toolin. Madison also tries to participate in weekly local tournaments at North Texas Chess Academy when it works in our schedule. She takes weekly lessons from a Grandmaster through the Davidson Young Scholar Program. Madison also enjoys being a part of the Online Homeschool Chess Club. Madison also made the Top 100 Girls Age 10 US Chess Federation List.
Madison also attends Catechism class at church weekly and takes weekly piano lessons. She just moved up a level and is excited for the challenge of new books!
We decided to drop her co-op this semester. Loosing a day was making it hard for her to do all of her extra classes she signed up for this Spring and for her to have the down time she needs to be creative. We are continuing her Tinker Crate kits and she loves those as well as the Raddish cooking kits. The Raddish kits come with an email that includes a homeschool curriculum. It is a great value! Madison enjoys writing her penpal and participating in our local Mensa Youth activities when our schedule allows. She was able to fly a plane again and today she did an Escape Room event that was a lot of fun.
Madison loves to create and so she has made some interesting things in her free time. The most recent has been a woman made out of mud and has a two-toned leaf dress and the other is re-purposing Amazon boxes.
Madison is also in the process of tumbling her rocks to make into jewelry. It takes 4 stages and about a month of tumbling for each batch.
I haven’t been able to keep a booklist for all of the books she has read, but recently she finished the The Wrinkle in Time Quintet Boxed Set (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time) and now she is reading the Redwall series.
They stopped to take pictures along the National Mall.
After we checked out of our hotel we headed to the Library of Congress.
Before heading to the airport was none other than Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. We purchased tickets using our Explorer pass. Maybe I just like wax museums, but I thought this was a lot of fun. Some were much better than others, but being able to get up close and pose and have outfits to put on made it a lot more fun than just walking through and looking at them. I apologize in advance for the abundance of pictures. Madison really got into each scene so it cracked me up! I think she enjoyed this as much as I did!
They have a bus seat after her wax figure that you can sit down in. When you do a light above you starts flashing and a voice of a bus driver comes on over a loud speaker telling you to move. Then it tells you to get off the bus. You hear sirens…it was surreal. An excellent part of the exhibit that really brings it to life.
Madison for President!
That sums up our trip to Washington D.C.! We had a blast and cannot wait to go back and do everything we didn’t get a chance to do!
Day 6 of our Washington D.C. Vacation was probably the longest day….
We started out visiting Mount Vernon in Virginia.
Madison didn’t feel it was appropriate to smile in front of the tombs.
Then we went back to D.C. and visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Madison completed her National Mall Park Junior Ranger Badge.
And went on an evening bus tour of D.C.
I highly recommend seeing Washington D.C. at night. The moments are so much different when they are lit up.
On Day five of our Washington D.C vacation we had a wonderful visit with family in the area. It was great to catch up and spend time.
In the evening we decided to go to the World War II Memorial. Madison also worked on her National Mall Ranger Badge while we were there.
Then we headed back to the hotel to relax. (View of the lobby from our floor.)
This was hands down our best day of our trip.
On Day 4 of our Washington D.C. vacation we visited Ford’s Theater. It has changed a lot since I went when I was 12!
They now have a museum that you go through first. It was amazing! We opted for the audio companion as well. Madison also worked on her Ford’s Theater Ranger Badge during our visit.
Ford’s Theater still holds productions. The history of the Theater is intriguing.
After we toured the museum and the theater we went across the street to the Peterson house. They have added an amazing museum to this as well!
Madison was also sworn in for completing her Ford’s Theater Ranger packet and received her badge and patch.
We decided to explore the International Spy Museum next! Madison decided she would be Jane Meyer…
It was fun. I wouldn’t recommend doing it without purchasing tickets at a discount with the Explorer Pass. All in all, it was a fun filled day!
Madison had to get a picture of her on Madison Drive. 😉
We started out day 2 with a docent tour of the National Archives Museum. We saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The best part pf this tour is that we were in a small group and we were in the museum before it opened to the public, so we didn’t have to deal with crowds to see these magnificent documents. The rest of the tour was amazing and we learned a lot. We also were able to view the Magna Carta. Next time, we will go into the Boeing Learning Center. This museum is one that you should reserve online tickets for even if you do not take the tour.
Next, we set out to tour the monuments. The metro does not cover this area, so we chose to buy tickets for a hop on- hop off bus. I highly recommend doing this. There are several to choose from. We chose one from Groupon, but it did have downsides. The buses didn’t come as frequently and there were not as many stops. We did get a free night tour, so that made up for the other inconveniences. The Big Bus was popular and it can be bought at a discounted price with a purchase of the Washington D.C. Explorer Pass. We did end up purchasing an Explorer Pass for other things, but we found a better deal on it on Groupon.
Our first memorial stop was the Jefferson Memorial.
Before we went to the memorials we picked up a National Junior Ranger National Mall and Memorial folder with sheets to complete for each memorial for Madison to turn in and earn a National Junior Ranger pin. She was also able to stamp the back of the folder with a stamp that had the date and the memorial name. The stamps were located in the bookstores by the registers of each memorial. The Jefferson Memorial had a really neat Park Ranger store.